James Webb Space Telescope Event
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks have joined almost 500 sites across the country to celebrate the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s next great space science observatory.
In collaboration with Canyonlands National History Association, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyon Country Discovery Center, Goblin Valley State Park, Green River State Park, and local US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management field offices, on Friday, September 16th Arches National Park will host an evening of public programming to bring the excitement of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) to their Southeast Utah community.
The evening will feature a keynote speaker, an evening program, telescope viewing, constellation tours, guided walks, and self-guided experiences along the Arches National Park scenic drive.
Historic Flood Scours the Moab Area
On Saturday, Aug. 20, Mill Creek, which runs through downtown Moab, flash flooded. Preliminary data from the Mill Creek water gage near the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve shows the water height peaked at 15.65 feet—nearly 12 feet higher than usual. In some areas, almost two inches of rain fell in less than an hour.
Data supports that this was a 100 year event.
The scale of the event prompted the city and Grand County on Sunday evening to issue emergency declarations. That makes funds and resources available to the community to help pay for damage caused by the flood. The flood caused millions of dollars in damage: Nearly every building on Main Street, 100 West, and along the Mill Creek parkway was impacted, and the parkway itself is closed indefinitely due to debris and significant damage.
On August 23, Utah Governor Spencer Cox issued a State of Emergency in response to the recent flooding in Grand County. The declaration raises awareness of the dangers of flash flooding and allows the state to continue offering state assistance to local governments as needed. “We’ve seen destructive flash floods tear through communities, damage homes and businesses, and endanger lives throughout southern Utah. State government remains ready to offer emergency coordination and expertise as these areas recover and rebuild,” said Gov. Cox. “We also urge everyone to take flash flood warnings very seriously.”
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson visited with Moab Mayor Joette Langianese and members of the Grand County Commission and Moab City Council as well as a number of businesses and other sites to survey the devastation. “I’m shocked by the size and scope of the flooding that swept through Moab causing damage to homes, businesses, and local infrastructure,” Lt. Gov. Henderson said. “Fortunately, I’m hopeful for a full recovery. Moab is open for business and the cleanup is well underway.
State Highway 211, the main road into the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park was heavily damaged by recent rains and remains closed until further notice. The alternate route to get to the Needles in on the Harts Draw Road out of Monticello Utah. From Hwy 191 in Monticello, turn West onto 200 S. Continue 18 miles of windy mountain road (not recommended for trailers) to rejoin 211 past the closure.
Local River Ranger Wins National Award
Steve Young also known as TBerry received the 2022 Outstanding Contribution to River Management Award from the River Management Society. The award recognizes TBerry’s influence, leadership and partnerships that extends beyond his employer, the National Park Service.
TBerry has established excellent relationships with the Bureau of Land Management, the State of Utah, State Parks and Forestry Fire and State Lands Sovereign Lands Program as well as the United States Forest Service and Grand and San Juan Counties.
TBerry is an outstanding advocate for professional river management and clearly shares his vision with visitors, river guides, concessionaires, interns, volunteers, fellow employees, interagency partners, and elected representatives.
Read more about TBerry’s accomplishments.
Seasonal Climbing Restrictions Lifted
The BLM has lifted seasonal climbing avoidance areas in the Indian Creek corridor within Bears Ears National Monument. Each spring, the Monticello Field Office asks the public to voluntarily avoid routes near historic nesting sites in Indian Creek. This year the BLM confirmed nesting and territory activity on several walls. Minimizing disturbances during crucial egg incubation and brood rearing periods for peregrine falcons, eagles and other raptors is critical to successfully rearing young.
BLM staff, including a wildlife biologist, monitored active nests throughout the spring and summer and documented successful fledgling of several peregrine chicks in two different nests. They also confirmed the range-wide absence of golden eagle nesting, which they believe is due to drought and lack of prey.
Peregrine falcons nest and hunt in the cliffs surrounding Indian Creek. They can fly up to 70 miles per hour and reach up to 200 miles per hour in free fall dives. However, despite their speed and agility, peregrine populations were in steep decline during the mid-20th century, and in the United States, the birds became an endangered species.
Today, they have rebounded strongly since the use of DDT and other chemical pesticides have been curtailed. Though no longer listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the peregrine falcon is still a protected species. Voluntarily avoiding climbing routes with historical and active nests helps protect raptors and reduces the need for mandatory restrictions.
Manti La Sal Update
Great American Outdoors Act projects are in full swing on the Manti LaSal National Forest, and the Canyon Country Youth Corps is making great progress in maintaining and reestablishing an important connector on the Skyline Trail in the Abajo Mountains. In addition, the Utah Conservation Corps is working on the rebuilding tread on the long overlooked South Mountain Trail system.
Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) rangers have been clearing trails in the Dark Canyon Wilderness and continue to install the new BENM boundary signs along the forest boundary.
The Canyonlands Field Institute and Global Leadership Adventures volunteered last month to assist crews in brushing portions of the Trans La Sal Trail. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance helped with three different volunteer events in August, including brushing trails and maintaining aspen exclosures in BENM, as well as several projects to protect important meadows and wetlands on the District.
The Forest Service Trail crew has been focusing their efforts on heavily used trails in the La Sal including Miners Basin, Doe and Pole Canyons and Burro Pass. In addition, recreation staff have also been partnering with Grand County Trail Mix Trail Ambassadors to provide information to visitors along the Whole Enchilada mountain bike trail.
Moab Information Center 2022 Lecture Series
Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA)
Thursday’s @ 5:00 p.m.
Date: September 8
Presenter: Devon Dunajski
Title: Fear! Creepy Crawly Creatures of Canyonlands
Join Ranger Devon for a talk about all the things that scare us. Moab is in the heart of a vast, desert wilderness. The sparseness of the landscape allows our imagination to run wild with “what-if” scenarios from spider bites to predators creeping up on us in the canyons. However, all of the organisms that scare us the most have an important role in the desert ecosystem. Can a little bit of understanding of the critters that give us the creepy crawlies change our perspective?
Date: September 22
Presenter: Jon Blanc
Title: Guzzlers 101
Guzzlers are a type of water development that provides water for wildlife. They are a tool to mitigate negative impacts, habitat fragmentation and loss, drought, and human disturbance. Providing water improves occupied habitats and reduces the need to move to other areas seeking water. The BLM Moab Field Office wildlife program helps maintain more than 40 guzzlers that benefit bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope. Jon Blanc is going to discuss the importance of guzzlers, how they’re built, and more!
This is an excerpt from the Canyonlands Natural History Association’s Member Newsletter. To find out more about CNHA and how to get your own copy delivered, visit the Canyonlands Natural History Association website.